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Michigan State's Trae Waynes is Spartans' latest standout CB


The quickie breakdown of Saturday's Michigan State-Oregon game goes something like this: It will be Oregon's speed vs. Michigan State's brawn.

And going by what Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi says, there is some truth to that.

"They are a lot faster than we are, if you watch the tape," Narduzzi told reporters Wednesday. "We will have our hands full."

One Spartans defender Narduzzi isn't worried about when it comes to being able to keep up is junior cornerback Trae Waynes (6-foot-1, 182 pounds), who is this season's Darqueze Dennard for the Spartans. Dennard was a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2014 draft.

Waynes started last season as Michigan State's field cornerback (the field corner defends the wide side of the field on each play); this season, he replaces Dennard as the boundary corner, a position that carries a lot of responsibility in the Spartans' defense. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has noticed Waynes and fellow cornerback Darian Hicks in film study.

"They press their corners the majority of the time, and you don't see teams do that a lot with both corners, so you know they're special players," Mariota told the Detroit Free-Press.

Wayne might not be as technically sound as Dennard -- not yet, anyway -- but he is bigger and faster. And Dennard seems to know it. "Trae will move to my side, and Trae will end up being two times better than me," Dennard said in February.

As with Dennard, Waynes wasn't considered a national recruit. He played safety in his first two seasons in high school in Kenosha, Wis. (where he was a teammate of Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon), then moved to corner as a senior. But he played just two full games at corner before suffering a broken leg that ended his season.

But Michigan State coaches liked what Waynes did at a summer camp -- including running a reported 4.2 40 -- and Waynes signed with the Spartans as a corner despite his lack of experience at the position. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2011, then played sparingly in 2012 before becoming a starter last fall.

Oregon has struggled against elite defenses in recent seasons, and Michigan State certainly has an elite defense. In an appearance on the Pac-12 Network on Wednesday night, former Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti noted that since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Ducks are 2-5 against top-20 defenses and 46-3 against everyone else.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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